Researchers: About half of SC teachers who left their job this summer went to another school district

Nation and World News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — The South Carolina Teacher Education Advancement Consortium through Higher Education Research (SC-TEACHER) surveyed some of the South Carolina educators who left their jobs this summer.

They said about 48% of the teachers they surveyed left their job to teach at another school district.

Tommy Hodges is the Director of SC-TEACHER and Interim Dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Education. He spoke to a panel of state education leaders and state lawmakers Monday afternoon about teacher turnover.

He said convenience of job location, relocation, decision to retire and dissatisfaction with school administrators were often cited as the single most important reason for a teacher leaving.

Hodges told the Education Oversight Committee they saw pattern where COVID-19 exacerbated the frustrations of already discouraged teachers leading to extremely high emotional burnout.

He also said COVID-19 itself did not lead to a mass exodus of teachers, “Teachers did not leave because of concerns over their own health but rather left over concerns of being effective because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Senator Greg Hembree (R-District 28) said making sure new teachers are better prepared for the classroom could help keep them there. “I’m absolutely convinced the number one thing we can do in South Carolina make real improvements, is build better leaders and teachers,” he said.

In addition to effectiveness, Hodges said teachers cited concerns over lack of support from their school board and broader community as a reason for leaving their job.

Those leaving the profession for good cited higher salaries, availability of full-time teaching positions, and smaller class sizes as important factors in consideration of a return to teaching.

Before the start of the 2020-21 school year, the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) reported nearly 6,000 teachers left their positions. An additional 677 educators left their job from October 2020 to February 2021.

CERRA is expected to release their 2021 report in the coming months.

To read a summary of the SC-Teacher exit survey results click or tap here.

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